February 1st-2nd marks a confluence of several feasts and occasions including: the Celtic feast of Imbolc, St. Brigid’s Day, Candlemas, Feast of the Presentation, and Groundhog Day! Of all these things what do we know to be fully true? Or what, like the stories of the Celtic Saints are not meant to be literal or historical, but spiritual, mythical, archetypal, and psychological, resonating with the deepest parts of our souls.
I wonder how often we fight to make things factual. Yes not necessarily “true”, whatever that means, but factual. I know I’ve said it before about someone, and I thought it was CS Lewis but can’t find the actual quote, who says that “the Bible is true” but not factual.
Imbolc is said to be the day when sheep start lambing and when the days start to get noticeably longer; Brigid was allegedly a powerful abbess showing that Celtic Christianity was pro-women; she is also connected with the pantheon of ancient Celtic gods and goddesses; Candlemas is celebrated as the day Jesus was present at the temple in Jerusalem and recognised by Anna and Simeon, yet also within the bible narrative he was in Egypt at this point; and Groundhog day is to do with the shadow of a groundhog and how long winter will last, although we use the meaning for “Groundhog day” more in keeping with Bill Murray’s movie.
But as one thinks over these feasts and occasions with their elements of “truth” we need to realise how much we need them. As women we need a powerful woman, whether saint or goddess, to encourage us as we deal with our homes, our children, partners, and the mundane of life, because no matter how you jazz it up housework, daily feeding of a family, etc are boring and repetitive. But to have a supernatural woman to turn to then it helps.
To have something like groundhog day when, as we step tentatively out of winter and into spring we are reminded that it may either getting better immediately or not. And not just the weather. As we step into another month of the ever extending lockdown here in the UK, I believe, it is good to be able to think that, at the turn of a groundhog’s shadow things could change rapidly or continue for longer. I am wondering if we need to put in some superstition to help us through this lockdown time, something we can turn to that might just help us keep on keeping on? Something that gives us hope but in a “well if it doesn’t happen then it will in time” type of hope.
Hope isn’t instant. Sometimes hope unfurls slowly and only when it has fully come to fruition do we recognise it for what it is. Sometimes what we are hoping for unfurls in a very different way to what we wanted. Which then leads us to Jesus being presented in the Temple and the two old people, who had been waiting their whole lives, recognised him for who he truly was. Factually he was a small baby, child of two not overly well-off parents, but these two old people knew him for what he truly was – the saviour of the world. But the only way they knew was because they had been praying their whole lives. Are we willing to pray our whole lives to see change? To see something amazing unfold?
Even though, as I saw that original sentence on the Abbey of The Arts newsletter I thought the events were unconnected as I have explored through this post I can see that they all fit together like a well-made glove. And this makes me willing to pray for the future. A future I may only glimpse that that will benefit the whole world.